Great Books 202 - Whitfield

by gratz_ae — last modified 2016-04-28T16:30:24-04:00

This guide contains resources that should help you complete your commentary assignment, but please don't hesitate to contact Amy Gratz (contact information at right) if you have any questions!

Useful Resources:

Perseus Digital Library - Sponsored by Tufts University, this site includes a digital library that provides a variety of resources on the ancient world from primary texts to site plans. Note that many of the materials here are provided in translation as well as in the original language. You can use this source to access alternate translations of all the works you've read so far in Great Books, as well as commentaries on some of them. You can also easily search within all the works on the site.

Citing Sources - use the OWL at Purdue guide on MLA for most sources. Depending on which of the commentaries you're using, you may need to use the specific guidelines for "Citation[s] for Classic and Literary Works with Multiple Editions," or "A Work in an Anthology, Reference, or Collection." As always, you can bring papers and works cited lists to the Ask Jack desk to have a librarian help you correctly format your citations.

Locating Alternate Translations:

Before you start working with your commentaries in detail, you should read your passage in at least one other translation, to help you understand the nuances of the original Greek. Some of the commentaries listed below include the translations that the commentators referred to, but not all. Here's how you can find more:

Search the Library CatalogUsing the Advanced Search page, search for the author and title of your work. You should also limit your search to printed material, and the language to English. For the Nicomachean Ethics, I recommend putting the title in quotation marks.

Search Online: There are several translations of both of these texts available online, some of which are more reputable than others. Do not use online texts where you cannot determine who the translator is. I would recommend searching Google Books or Perseus Digital Library as more reliable online sources for these texts. If you use online books, please make sure you correctly cite your source as an ebook! 

Commentaries on Euclid's Elements:

Proclus' Commentary on the First Book of Euclid's Elements, 5th century - Proclus lived from about 410-485 AD, and for a time was head of Plato's Academy. His commentary on the first book of Euclid's Elements is from a Platonic perspective, and has more of a philosophical than a mathematical bent (according to Heath).

al-Nayrizi's Commentary on Books II-IV and part of Book I of Euclid's Elements, 10th century - al-Nayrizi, an Islamic mathematician whose commentary on Euclid's Elements played a very important role in the development of mathematics, both in Islamic and Western traditions. His work also influenced the commentary of Albertus Magnus and other Western scholars.

Albertus Magnus' Commentary on Book I of Euclid's Elements, 13th century - Albertus Magnus (or Albert the Great) was a renowned scholar for his time period. There is some scholarly debate on whether or not this commentary is correctly attributed to Albertus Magnus, but it does provide useful insight into the perspective of Western Medieval scholars on the more logical works of ancient Greece.

Heath's Commentary on the Thirteen Books of Euclid's Elements, 20th century Heath's translation and commentary was first published in 1908 and is the current standard translation for English. This is also the most recent true commentary on Euclid's work available in English.

Commentaries on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics:

Aquinas' Commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics, 13th century - Perhaps the most well-known commentary on the Nichomachean Ethics, St. Thomas Aquinas' work had a profound impact on the interpretation of Aristotle in Western Civilization. It is interesting to note that many of his interpretations are heavily influenced by the lectures of Albertus Magnus, his teacher, which were lost over time. 

Vermigli's Commentary on Books I-III of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, 16th century - Vermigli was a well-known scholar for his era, and focused primarily on biblical commentaries. His commentary on the Ethics was his only non-Biblical work, but followed a common practice of the time; commenting on Aristotle to complement biblical lectures.

Sullivan's Commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics, 20th century - This work covers the entirety of the Ethics, but does so thematically, as it is aimed more at "the person who wants to get to know Aristotle's moral philosophy," than at serious scholars of Aristotle. 

Rorty's Essays on Aristotle's Ethics20th century - This work contains chapters written by a variety of authors, arranged in such a way that they provide a commentary on the complete work. As with Sullivan, this work is also a less traditional commentary, but provides more recent insights into this ancient work.

Taylor's Commentary on Books I-IV of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, 21st century - Published in 2006, this is an "analytical and critical commentary focusing on philosophical issues." Looking only at Books II, III, and IV, this work focuses on the theme of virtue or excellence of character, and includes the author's full translation of the relevant books.

Reeve's Commentary on Book VI of the Nicomachean Ethics, 21st century- Published in 2013, the author provides a translation, analysis, and commentary on Book IV of the ethics. As it is a full work devoted to a single book in the Ethics, it goes into much more detail than some of the others.